HAVANA TIMES — I was cutting through the main square in the Havana suburb of Marianao, a place known because they sell food there, and I stopped at one of the state-run businesses.
They were selling soda crackers in large plastic bags for 50 pesos (about $2 USD). To me this seemed kind of expensive, especially seeing as how almost all of the crackers were crushed, but since crackers are my favorite snack, I still decided to get in line.
Shortly after things started to go crazy. At least two dozen shouting women took over the scene some saying they had already marked a place in line. there started shouting when it seemed that someone was trying to cut in line. Two police officers then showed up and positioned themselves next to the establishment.
Shortly afterwards, the clerks began pulling out the packages of crackers from behind the counter. One woman left with ten bags, and another with twenty. Some people protested but it was all in vain; the supposed authority figures simple observed the disorder and laughed when they saw everyone jostling each other around, desperate to get their hands on the products.
Another woman, who I’ve seen reselling products there in the square, was walking away loaded with bags. Among the shouting and shoving, I looked at the police, who knew all too well what was going to soon happen to those crackers.
I spent about 45 minutes in line, enduring the sun and of course trying to reach the counter, but I obviously didn’t. I managed to get close, but not close enough, because during my attempt all of the crackers were sold out.
It was all due to the process not being organized properly. So who’s to blame?
I guess that all of us are guilty to some degree.
Firstly, there were those people who were selling the product. If they had limited the sales to one bag per person, many more people would have been served.
In second place there were us buyers, who didn’t realize how savagely we were acting, and that for a handful of crackers we were capable of offending and attacking each other (I don’t want to imagine the barbarism that would have been displayed had the product been beef).
Thirdly, there were the police, who acted only as decorative objects given that they were supposed to have been on duty. Actually, right now I don’t know what the real purpose of the revolutionary police is, given their attitudes, I can’t trust them.
The whole thing was even more difficult to accept when after the sales of the crackers you could find people in every corner of the square reselling those same crackers (my favorite snack) at 100 pesos a package.
For me, 100 pesos was way too much, so I chose to go home and write this article. At least this would help me to vent. This way I’m less likely to end up with an ulcer or a cerebral ischemia.
I’m sure that the resellers in the square will continue pulling their same old tricks, and that the police will continue to show up there, killing time, helping those people hustle without much effort. In fact, many of the products sold by state-run businesses end up being hoarded and re-sold. This is how those people make their livings, at the expense of working people.
I think we should do something about the issue of the Marianao square, and also analyze what’s happening with those who are supposed to ensure that such situations don’t occur?